Easy Carrot Cake with Whipped Icing
Trigger Warning: While I’ve tried to make the details of disordered eating behavior mentioned in this post very vague, they still may be triggering. If you’ve struggled with disordered eating and are vulnerable to that, you may not want to read.
I read an article yesterday that made my blood boil to the point where I could barely sleep a wink. Instead, I stayed up all night processing. What was so bad about the article? Why did it bother me so much? Why did the website’s flippant, patronizing responses to readers’ criticism on their Facebook page bother me so much?
I won’t link to the article, 10 Mistakes Women Make in the Gym, because T-Nation seemed particularly proud that it was one of the most popular articles on the website and I don’t feel like giving them anymore traffic. Instead, I’ll summarize: it’s a list of things women “should” change about how they exercise written in your typical peacocky fitness-website tone. It takes for granted that women should prioritize appearance above all else in the gym, mixes in some body shaming and triggering language, and ticks all the SEO boxes for the post to do well on the internet.
Particularly offensive highlights include:
Too many women, because of poor exercise choices or practices, end up building a body that’s “skinny fat,” a condition where they appear thin in clothes, but actually have a higher body fat percentage than they did before they started exercising.
God forbid we build the “wrong” body type. Ugh. Hope we’re not unlucky enough to be one of those women born with the “wrong” body type to begin with! Wouldn’t that suck!
…flabby, pasty-white guys that should never be naked, even when they’re alone in a secluded cabin on a mountaintop.
No reason to limit body shaming to women. We alllll know those flabby, pasty-white guys that don’t deserve to be naked even in the shower, right? They’re probably skinny-fat! The Worst. Thing. Ever.
Women are torn between what they read in Shape or on some insane aerobic queen’s blog, their unqualified husband’s or boyfriend’s pontifications on diet and exercise, or society’s conflicting and confounding expectations of what a woman should look like.
Haaahaha, women are so dumb, am I right? It’s just so hard to decide whether to listen to magazines, insane aerobic queens, or our boyfriends. So hard.
Bodies, at least the most aesthetically pleasing ones, are a combination of convex and concave curves instead of straight lines. You’re a delectable and enticing mammal, not a tree.
Awesome! I was hoping for more body shaming. Tell me more about the body type I should want. So far I’ve got, “delectable,” “convex and concave in appropriate places,” “not tree-like,” “NEVER SKINNY FAT,” and “mammalian.” And apparently insect-tiny:
If you want a waist that’s as broad as a tree stump, then have at it. If, however, you want the mythical wasp waist . . .
This is where my eyes turned red and my head exploded. Did they just say mythical wasp waist? As the goal?
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be strong and healthy, or even wanting to alter your appearance for healthy reasons. I love the saying, “strong is the new skinny,” and I love that women are getting into fun fitness routines to be proud of their strength and dedication. If that’s their pursuit, I think it’s a wonderful one. And really, this article had plenty of good advice and even good intentions. But packaging this otherwise good advice in an offensive, body shaming article that feeds into “ideal body” stereotypes and fails miserably at humor? No. That assumes women all want the same thing or should/would be ashamed to have certain bodies? No. NO. NO. NO.
When confronted on their Facebook page by someone who pointed out the body shaming, T-Nation responded in excruciatingly typical invalidating fashion, telling her she was overreacting and emotional despite the fact that she had neither stated or implied any emotion. Other commenters chimed in with, “If women feel bad about themselves because of reading an article, they should shut up and change themselves!”
Oh, you guys.
Listen. I’ve shut up and changed myself.
I’ve starved. I’ve lost feeling in limbs. I’ve modified myself. I’ve counted. I’ve sweated. I’ve subsisted on ridiculous food choices. I’ve consumed special concoctions. I’ve worked very, very hard. Mike sometimes says he doesn’t understand why pictures of unrealistically perfect women hurt me rather than inspire me and I tell him: “Oh, they do inspire me! And that’s the problem. That’s what hurts me. Because I don’t need to be inspired towards an unrealistic or unhealthy body type. And I don’t need to be inspired to have a different body type than I naturally have.”
Despite being at a normal weight now, when I feel bad about myself, you better believe I shut up and keep trying to change. Even as someone who considers myself mostly recovered, that voice is there: thinner thinner thinner. It’s not something I chose: I was raised with this obsession. I inherited it. I’m fed it. It’s there every day, and I work hard to quiet the voice and tell myself I’m good enough even though I don’t feel small enough.
And that’s why I reacted so viscerally to this article: I’m suffering. I suffer every day because someone at some point coined the phrase “wasp waist.” Because someone at some point decided women should want X, Y, and Z. Because dropping out of the race to get X, Y, and Z will reduce my worth in this society. I can manage my own suffering — I’ve worked hard to be able to do that. But there are many, many, many women suffering out there to varying degrees: they are feeling a pang in their chest when their jeans won’t zip, feeling guilt about skipping an exercise class when they have a cold, feeling confused about when it’s okay for them to indulge hunger, and on and on and on.
On the same day I saw the T-Nation article, I saw this comic by Colleen Clark. The message was exactly what I was feeling at that moment, and when I got to the last panels, my heart broke. It’s not good enough for my students to grow up in a world where
FAT SKINNY THIGH GAP WASP WAIST THUNDER THIGHS CELLULITE STRETCH MARKS JELLY BELLY THINSPIRATION WEIGHT LOSS ABS LIPOSUCTION AIRBRUSHED TONED TUMMY FACELIFT
is the conversation we’re having about women instead of
BRILLIANT SCIENTIST INSPIRING STRONG PEACEFUL POWERFUL HEALTHY FUNNY WRITER INTERESTING COMPASSIONATE SUCCESSFUL PASSIONATE MATHEMATICIAN TALENTED LEADER
Women are people, and they shouldn’t be in a prison of expectations. We can each individually break out every chance we get, but also, society needs to stop building the prison.
Thanks for letting me process with you. We deserve to enjoy food we love, exercise we love, intellectual pursuits we love, hobbies we love, and people we love. I leave you with carrot cake and a sledgehammer — for breaking down those prison gates.
One year ago: Gooey Carmelitas
Two years ago: Sausage & Toast Breakfast Strata in Baked Tomatoes
Three years ago: Sweet and Spicy Pickled Grapes with Goat Cheese
Four years ago: 48 Homemade Breakfast Cereals
Five years ago: Red Velvet and Oreo Kisses
Easy Carrot Cake with Whipped Icing
Recipe by: Adapted from Barefoot Contessa and icing adapted from Missy Dew on Tasty Kitchen
Yield: 9-12 servings
This cake is perfect for those of you who love carrot cake but don’t want to spend the time and energy to make a layer cake. This cake is quick, simple, and small, so you won’t end up with too many leftovers. The whipped icing is wonderful on this moist spice cake. Enjoy!
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup and 5 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 eggs, at room temperature
2/3 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup raisins
2/3 cup chopped walnuts, plus more for toasting and topping
2/3 pound carrots, grated
1/3 cup diced fresh pineapple
Whipped Icing Ingredients:
1 cup milk
5 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (not powdered sugar)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup butter, at room temperature
Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line an 8-inch square baking pan with a parchment paper sling. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together until light yellow. Stir in the vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together 1 2/3 cups flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Toss the raisins and walnuts with the remaining 1 tablespoon flour and fold them, with the carrots and pineapple, into the batter. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake around 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Allow the cake to cool completely.
Make the frosting: Heat the milk, flour, and granulated sugar together over medium heat, whisking constantly. Once it starts to boil, continue whisking and heating it for around 7 minutes or until it’s very thick, like cake batter consistency. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the vanilla extract. Remove the mixture to a shallow pan and let the mixture cool completely (after a bit, I stuck mine in the fridge to hurry it along). Once the mixture is completely cool, beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until soft and fluffy. Add the completely cooled mixture and beat on high until you have fluffy frosting the consistency of stiff whipped cream (this takes several minutes, so be patient). Frost your completely cooled cake with a thick layer — you’ll probably use about 3/4 of the frosting, but not all. Top with toasted walnuts. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge, but be sure to let it sit out for 30 minutes before serving so the frosting can soften.
Lauren at Keep It SweetAugust 14, 2014 at 7:25 am (9 years ago)
So well put, Julie! It’s unrealistic to expect that the media stop portraying unrealistic body images, but at the same time, they should take responsibility for messages they are sending.
Julie RubleAugust 14, 2014 at 9:12 am (9 years ago)
Thanks Lauren! I’m hoping that as media continues to hear from women who dislike the current portrayal, we’ll get more companies like Dove and Always recognizing that it pays to support women. Here’s hopin’! 🙂
Katrina @ Warm Vanilla SugarAugust 14, 2014 at 7:53 am (9 years ago)
Carrot cake is my FAV! Love the simplicity of this!
Julie RubleAugust 14, 2014 at 9:13 am (9 years ago)
TaraAugust 14, 2014 at 9:16 am (9 years ago)
How many cups of grated carrots does 2/3 pounds yield?
Julie RubleAugust 14, 2014 at 9:59 am (9 years ago)
I’m sorry, Terry, but I didn’t measure! I just bought one of those 1-pound bag of carrots and used about 2/3 of it. I feel like it was about 2 cups, but don’t quote me on that!
Lisa RoszlerAugust 14, 2014 at 9:38 am (9 years ago)
Thanks for this! 🙂 I was anorexic in my late teens and, like every other woman who has struggled with it, will be in recovery mode for the rest of my life. Most of the time (35 years later), I do alright. But then I see a photo taken at an unguarded moment or catch an unexpected glimpse in the mirror and the immediate reaction is, “Whoa! You gotta do something about that! You are FAT!” And then I try to remember I am loved, and unique, and gifted, and that the number on the bathroom scale is just (as I read this morning) “the numerical value of my gravitational pull.” 🙂 I am not a runway model (and oddly enough, was not one when I was 79 lbs, either…hmmm) but I am a role model. I will celebrate the whole, entire person that God made and I will do my best to keep its package and contents healthy. And I will laugh with my friend Daphne, who has The Struggle herself, when she ponders God and His ways-that-we-don’t-understand-or-expect; that won’t it be just so funny if we get to heaven and our glorified bodies are all size 14 when we tried so hard on Earth to get them to be 4s. 🙂
Lisa RoszlerAugust 14, 2014 at 9:52 am (9 years ago)
Julie RubleAugust 14, 2014 at 10:26 am (9 years ago)
I love that thought, Lisa! And I love your redirection of your attention — it is so important and is a daily task!
Vickie S.August 14, 2014 at 10:19 am (9 years ago)
Goodness, thank you for this most proundly eloquent post. I love it when people express my thoughts better than I ever could and you did it. The only thing I can add is something Sam said to Diane on “Cheers” many years ago: “It’s perfectly ok to have an unexpressed thought.” Obviously the person who thought all that crap up never should have expressed it. Thanks again and happy baking!
Julie RubleAugust 14, 2014 at 10:26 am (9 years ago)
Thanks so much, Vickie! I love that idea — something to share with my students 🙂
JamieAugust 14, 2014 at 7:14 pm (9 years ago)
Lol I have totally told students that they don’t actually have to say everything they think.
Julie RubleAugust 16, 2014 at 6:08 pm (9 years ago)
It’s so, so true. LOL.
AnnAugust 14, 2014 at 2:38 pm (9 years ago)
I find it ironic (probably not, I’m sure the ad algorithm analyzed the keywords and picked it) that I’m seeing a Botox ad on the top right side of the post and a Suave ad at the bottom of the page. That Disneyland ad is very tempting though! 🙂
I can’t use a scale because I am no longer my 115lbs from high school/early college and getting on that scale threatens to damage what self-worth I have built up. It did damage it for about a year until I realized the scale wasn’t helping and I stopped.
Julie RubleAugust 14, 2014 at 2:41 pm (9 years ago)
Ha, ironic indeed! I’ve never seen the botox one, but I’m sure you’re right about the algorithm! Sneaky internet.
I’m SO with you on the scale — I love myself more (and don’t suddenly blow up like a balloon, despite my fears) when I ignore it completely. I am safe and that number doesn’t mean a thing.
fallconsmateAugust 14, 2014 at 3:19 pm (9 years ago)
oh, sweetness. i have struggled with you, i have listened to doctors tell me i should have mutilating surgery to reduce my size, then have finally been liberated by my SIZE TWO endocrinologist telling me “oh yes, ALL insulin will cause weight gain”. i nearly fell through the floor. NO ONE had told me that the weight i had put on (and i was comfortably round beforehand) since being diagnosed diabetic was NOT all my fault. and it is not. i CAN maintain a great A1c even with some lovely nibbles in there, i have proved it.
and you can maintain your beautiful healthy strong self, too. i am PROUD of you for embracing healthy eating and healthy habits and denying those foolish people who think that outside is all that matters. oh and for the record, those “wasp waists”? were held in by heavilly boned corsets. sometimes whalebone (baleen from the baleen whales), and sometimes steel, to keep those women thin, thin, thin. but there were plenty of women who did NOT tightlace, and wore their undergarments like women today wear theirs, for support only. bless you, lovely, and may your day today and every following hear those silly tapes in your brain less and less.
Julie RubleAugust 16, 2014 at 6:09 pm (9 years ago)
Thank you so much for your sweet words and thoughts!! Love to you!
SusanAugust 15, 2014 at 3:24 pm (9 years ago)
Oh Goddess…….that was great! I just got back from the gym where ‘fortunately’ I am there at a time when all the old men are there working out and we just look great…to each other. Thank you again. I’m still laughing. And that cake shall be MINE…sans the pineapple 🙂
Julie RubleAugust 16, 2014 at 6:08 pm (9 years ago)
I’m so glad it was timely for you 😉 Thanks Susan!
Jaren (Diary of a Recipe Collector)August 15, 2014 at 9:14 pm (9 years ago)
This looks really delicious!!
Julie RubleAugust 16, 2014 at 6:07 pm (9 years ago)
KarenAugust 16, 2014 at 11:25 am (9 years ago)
The amount of flour is an error in the instructions. Unfortunately I discovered that AFTER I had put all the ingredients together. It’s baking now. Not sure of the results
Julie RubleAugust 16, 2014 at 1:29 pm (9 years ago)
Hi Karen — the amount in the ingredients list is correct; the amount in the instructions was leftover from the recipe I adapted it from. I’m sorry for the confusion and I hope your cake still turns out. I hate that my error might have impacted your experience. I try to very carefully edit each post several times, but inevitably I make a mistake sometimes.
KarenAugust 16, 2014 at 6:34 pm (9 years ago)
No worries, it is edible but I did not want all your followers to make the same mistake!
It leaves me wondering how awesome would it have been if I had used the correct amount of flour!
Love your site
Barb | Creative CulinaryAugust 16, 2014 at 3:03 pm (9 years ago)
My daughter spent half of her college years struggling with bulemia. She never felt thin enough or pretty enough to meet the standards that seem to be set for women today so I get why that article would be beyond irritating; even to being upsetting. When Madison Avenue and men objectify women it’s bad enough but when our own do it; well there are no words.
However I made an observation in some comments I thought I needed to address. While cartoons of scales to make us laugh and pledges to not let a ‘number’ of pounds be our downfall there were still numbers. Size numbers. We are not all one size fits all. When one reader laments she’ll never see a size 4 again and will have to settle for 14, that sends a pretty powerful message if you ask me. We all need to fit a mold and that mold starts small. My daughter Lauren? Those numbers were one of her triggers. While everyone around her was wearing a size 4 she was wearing a size 10 or 12 and felt HUGE. It didn’t matter to her (or her friends) that she is 5’11” tall; she suffered when shopping with friends and I’ll tell you, that size business was a CONSTANT. Thankfully I discovered her illness, had her come home for a semester and get into therapy and today she is a much more assured young woman. Too young for breast cancer but that’s what we dealt with last year and I was so proud of her; she was a warrior and maybe for the first time she truly realized her worth wasn’t about size or her gorgeous hair or any external element. She brought a fighting spirit to that treatment center that I would like to think changed live; no matter her size.
OK, maybe I’m a little bit passionate about this but just hope everyone will get how those numbers can send a clear message to someone if they don’t fit into that demographic. That’s all.
We are all warriors in this battle to see women for their true value; thanks Julie for a moment of remembering that.
Julie RubleAugust 16, 2014 at 6:07 pm (9 years ago)
Thank you, thank you, Barb! What a crucial addition to this conversation. They say specifics (numbers, methods, etc.) can be extremely triggering to people struggling with disordered eating, and I’d like to agree that they can, even in smaller ways, be triggering or extremely suggestive to the rest of us too, even if we don’t realize it! You are so right, and I hadn’t thought of it like that. Bless Lauren — I pray for healing for her and for her spirit to continue to be as strong as it obviously is!
Jenny @ BAKESeptember 2, 2014 at 7:31 am (9 years ago)
This is such a beautifully written post, it’s so easy to get into the mindset that how you are isn’t good enough. It’s ridiculous in a time with so much access to knowledge and nutritional information that people are still suffering through in some cases dangerous and detrimental eating regimes to look like a clearly photoshopped image of ‘perfection’.
CyndiSeptember 7, 2014 at 8:50 am (9 years ago)
Thank you for your wise and wonderful words. I’m raising my 13 yr old daughter and try my best to keep her away from negative media. I want her to know she’s perfect just as she is… and so are you
SamanthaSeptember 8, 2014 at 3:46 am (9 years ago)
AMEN. As a former anorexic, and as someone who watched friends struggle for years with eating disorders, I’m with you 100%. Being fit in your own body is the most beautiful thing.
As a professor, if it’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s being judged for the cute dress I’m wearing rather than the content of the awesome class I just taught. I like to look nice, but that’s always secondary to the amount of effort I put into preparing lectures. This is especially true when we have recruiting events for students. I just did my first one at my new uni the other day, and the comments from parents were 99% about my appearance and 1% about the content of what I said. It made me feel incredibly awkward and unhappy, like what I said hadn’t been good enough, but somehow my outfit was okay…. I try to laugh it off, but it’s really hard.
FatimaSeptember 6, 2017 at 5:50 am (6 years ago)
Hi, I was actually looking for a whipped frosting for my carrot cake when I came here. I’m from a different culture which used to be more forgiving about women’s bodies until we got internet and social media. I’m overweight and have never joined a gym simply because being a mom to 4 and breastfeeding each for 2 years never gave me the time to. I only gained weight because of pregnancies. My husband never told me to lose weight in all my 16 years of marriage so I never really agonized over it. I just dress well and feel proud of my body for doing what it has done so far. May be I’ll lose weight one day. May be I won’t. Yoga teaches me to respect myself as an individual and I recommend it to everyone